Author: British Council | Published on 1 September 2022


Stage 1: Present examples 

Write a short text on the board. e.g. 

I enjoy cooking and I wanted to try something new, so I decided to make a fish curry. I finished preparing and started cooking. But my brother kept asking me questions about his homework and I forgot to turn off the gas. The curry was black and we couldn’t eat it. My brother smiled and said, “Now we can have chicken! I like chicken.”

Draw a table on the board. Say: “Sometimes in a sentence, one verb follows another, for example, enjoy cooking.” Write the example in column 1. Elicit an example for columns 2 and 3. 

1. Verb + ___ing (gerund) 2. Verb + to + infinitive 3. Verb + infinitive
enjoy want can

Say: “Copy this table. Work with a partner. Put the verbs in the correct column.” Monitor and support.

(Answers: 1. = enjoy, finish, start, keep, like 2. = want, decide, forget 3. = couldn’t, can) 

Ask: “Can you add more verbs to the table?” 

To help learners, you could:

  • Ask: “What kind of verbs are ‘can’ and ‘could’?” to elicit more modal verbs, e.g. will, should, must, etc.
  • Give examples of verbs they know, e.g. agree, dislike, help, choose, etc. and ask them to put them in the correct columns.  

Stage 2: Take feedback 

Ask learners to share their feedback on what they have noticed in the example sentences. Some key points which you might want to share with them include: 

  • There are different verb patterns in English. When you learn a new verb, you need to learn the verb pattern. 
  • We use ‘_ing verbs’ or gerunds after: e.g. enjoy, like, dislike, love, discuss, finish, keep, etc. E.g. I enjoy cooking. 
  • We use 'to + infinitive’ after: e.g. decide, want, forget, choose, etc. e.g. I forgot to turn off the gas. 
  • We use the ‘infinitive’ after modal verbs: e.g. couldn’t, can’t, etc. e.g. Now we can have chicken. 

Some verbs have more than one possible pattern and each pattern can have a different meaning or use. Compare these sentences:

a) Remember to do your homework. 

b) I remember learning to read with my grandmother.

a) Stop talking

b) He stopped to have a drink. 

a) She tried to do the exercise but it was too difficult. 

b) I tried calling you but your mobile was switched off.  

Stage 3: Use the grammar

a) True or false?

Write a list of verbs that have different patterns, e.g. ‘enjoy’, ‘would like’, ‘can’, etc. on the board. Tell learners to use the verbs to write 1 true and 2 false sentences about themselves. Put them in groups. Learners take turns to read out their 3 sentences. The other learners can ask questions to help them decide which sentence is true. Then they guess which sentence is true and score 1 point if they are correct. The learner with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.

b) Just a minute

Put learners in small groups. Number each learner in the group. Choose a topic. Write a question on the board. Say: “Number 1, talk for a minute.” Repeat with different numbers and questions.

Example topics and questions:


What do you dislike doing in class?

What subject do you like studying most?

Do you enjoy learning English?

Do you like people correcting your pronunciation?

How much time do you spend doing homework?

Free time

What do you like doing in your free time?

What would you like to do this weekend?

Other topics

Will you move house in the future?

What was the last thing you forgot to do?

What job do you hope to have in the future?

What country would you like to visit?

c) Write about it

Learners write a short text similar to the one used during the presentation and include 2 examples of each verb pattern. The teacher corrects. Then they rewrite the text but remove the 6 verbs to create a gap-fill, e.g. enjoy ______ (listen). They swap texts with another pair and fill the gaps with the correct forms of the verbs. 


elicit: How a teacher gets information from learners, e.g. asking questions, prompting.

verb pattern: Verbs patterns refer to what follows a verb

See also